“Nine months in, in general, I’m very pleased with where we are,” Bakish told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference on Wednesday. The conglomerate, which owns MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, made big changes in the executive suites at five of its flagship TV networks amid a larger corporate restructuring.
“We moved quick, and we’re at the place where we have a first-rate team,” Bakish said. Viacom also aligned key operations between Paramount Network and TV Land and other non-core channels.
“In all cases, we made significant changes throughout the teams, and in some cases consolidated networks together,” Bakish said. On the film side, Paramount Pictures installed Jim Gianopulos as chairman and CEO in April to run the studio and rebuild its management team.
“We’ve pivoted from Paramount being a part of the company that was going to go away … to being a fundamental asset,” Bakish said. Back on the TV side, he added the studio is working on a lower-cost, sports-free TV package to woo cord-cutters and cord-nevers. “You have to look at U.S. pay TV as in a transition, where certain elements have yet to emerge,” Bakish argued, as the price point for an emerging skinny bundle package at around $40 has yet to thrill consumers.
“A lower price point, that doesn’t include sports, has consumer appeal,” Bakish argued, and he said such a bundle would launch soon. “We are highly confident that a product will exist at this price point in this calendar year,” he added.
The Viacom head had little new to report on his studio’s carriage dispute with Charter Communications, which has taken MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, BET and Spike out of its basic tier for new subscribers.
“This is a negotiation. These negotiations tend to get resolved as the deals are up. Beyond that, there’s nothing to say,” Bakish said.